You probably don’t need proof that the emotional support you get from friends is vital, but here it is. Ten years ago a UCLA study proposed that a cascade of brain chemicals released when we’re stressed causes us to seek out other women. This ‘tend and befriend’ notion, developed by psychologists Drs. Shelley Taylor, Laura Klein and their associates, may explain why social ties reduce our risk of disease and help us live longer. Friends also help us live better. Research about coping after the loss of a partner indicates that women who have a close confidante more often survive without permanent loss of vitality. And that’s not all. Both the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study and the MacArthur Foundation Study confirm that friendship is one of the keys to a long and satisfying life.
So what is about your closest friends? Some women appreciate the unflinching acceptance and fierce loyalty, even after disclosing their darkest secrets. Others feel secure knowing that, with the support of someone totally on their side, anything is possible.
Appreciate your friends. Remind them of their attributes and talents. But also accept their flaws – especially at times when they need you to empathize with their position. Listen, regardless – your friends may just let off steam and in the process arrive at their own conclusions. Only give feedback when asked, and make sure that any negatives are gently but honestly delivered.
Here’s an article from Psychology Today that speaks to the differences between women and men when it comes to friendships. You can read one woman’s story, with questions that may shed some light on your own friendships, from the Newsletter Library on our website, www.HerMentorCenter.com.
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